Preventing Burnout As a Hospitalist
By: Varun Verma, MD
Published: Jan 17, 2024
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Preventing Burnout As a Hospitalist
Burnout is an all-too-common issue in the medical profession, particularly among hospitalists who face a unique set of challenges in their daily routines. To address this, we reached out to our community of physicians to gather practical advice on how to prevent burnout. Here are the top tips from those in the trenches:
1. Minimize Your Commute
One of the simplest yet most effective strategies is to reduce your commute time. Ideally, aim for less than 30 minutes door-to-door. A shorter commute can significantly reduce daily stress and free up more time for rest, family, and personal activities. This small change can have a profound impact on your overall well-being and work-life balance.
2. Seek Out a 'Round-and-Go' Job
Look for positions where the requirement for long calls is limited, ideally to once every 5-7 days. This 'round-and-go' approach can lessen the intensity of your workload and provide a more predictable schedule, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
3. Consider Cutting Back Hours
Sometimes, working full-time (1.0 FTE) can be overwhelming. Reducing your workload to about 0.7 FTE can make a significant difference, particularly in terms of family life and personal well-being. This slight reduction can allow for more recuperation time and reduce the overall stress of balancing professional and personal responsibilities.
4. Engage in Teaching
Many physicians find a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in teaching. If you're feeling burnt out, consider shifting to an academic setting. Teaching the next generation of doctors can be incredibly rewarding and can provide a much-needed change of pace from the typical hospitalist routine.
5. Consider an Alternate Schedule
The traditional work schedule 7 on/7 off model with 12-hour shifts may not be sustainable for everyone. An alternate schedule; like Monday through Friday two weeks a month, 7 days on and 7 days off could be more manageable (17 shifts a month). This model allows for more weekends home with family and still allows for a week off each month, which can be used for rest, hobbies, family, or personal development, helping to maintain your enthusiasm and energy for your work.
Preventing burnout as a hospitalist requires a proactive approach to work-life balance. By considering changes like minimizing your commute, seeking a job with a manageable call schedule, adjusting your full-time equivalent, engaging in teaching, or switching to an alternate work schedule, you can significantly reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your patients. By implementing these strategies, you can ensure a long, fulfilling career in hospital medicine.
Varun Verma, MD ⇨
Dr. Varun Verma, a seasoned internal medicine physician, embodies a passion for public health advocacy and a deep-seated knowledge of the trials encountered by medical professionals. His expansive experience spans 14 renowned hospitals, including UCSF, the Brigham, Jefferson, and Bellevue. Alongside his wife, a dermatologist, Varun champions the physician-patient relationship and fosters community and solidarity among physicians.
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